Over the years I have journeyed down several different paths hoping to find peace of mind and peace of heart. I have been blessed with a life that has not made too many difficult demands or presented too many roadblocks. Still, for me, it is helpful to have a “prayer” to use. In my case “prayer” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “an earnest request or wish”. I try to begin each day with a centering of some kind to get the day going, and then a different focus at night to let the day go and find peaceful rest.
I grew up the daughter of an Episcopal minister. I went to church on Sundays, Sunday school classes, confirmation classes and was confirmed. I understand it is not just about comfort, but I never found comfort in any of this. There was never a stirring in my heart from any of this. No song that wanted to sing out in joy, praise, humility. Anything.
In a previous post I wrote a bit about this:
Over the years I have tried this and that. I’m not really able to articulate what I was looking for. It was not about a supreme Being. Maybe not even about “spirituality”. More of a path that I could walk on in kindness, compassion, empathy and love. Free from fear, hate, judgement, right or wrong, self pride. For myself and for others.
As I sit here now, if I had to, I guess I would call what I practice, the path I try to follow, Loving Compassion. It’s just about trying to be a “good” person, a caring person, a loving and compassionate person. Someone who tries to cause no harm.
My “prayer” for many years now has been The Metta Prayer.
There are some variations, but each one has the same pattern: a prayer for yourself, a prayer for someone you love, a prayer for a mentor or someone you do not know well, but see often, a prayer for someone you struggle with and a prayer for all beings everywhere.
It is humbling to include all these people in my prayer and thoughts. It takes time to be comfortable in beginning with myself….but if I am not “taken care of” by myself, how can I take care of others?
And it helps me to ground myself in this moment. It connects me to others. It helps me embrace all others, no matter what. I can always wish for others, and myself, happiness, peace, health, love.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be happy.
May I be at ease.
Begin with yourself. This is often hard at first…..we tend to take care of others before ourselves. But we have to. After being offering this kindness to yourself, change the prayer to focus on someone you care about and love unconditionally. Imagine them sitting in front of you. Say their name. And then move on to someone who plays any role in your life, but you do not have a strong relationship with…maybe the cashier at the grocery, the parking lot attendant, the mail carrier….someone you see and interact with often. Or, perhaps it could be someone who is a mentor to you in some way. Someone you have regular contact with. Say their name, visualize their face. Now move on to someone you have difficulty with. To forgive, understand and accept is difficult. It may be a struggle, but don’t give up….And finally, your love flows out to the world.
May all beings be safe, healthy, happy, at ease.
When we wrap ourselves in love and care, and embrace others with the same, something changes in us.
I began this years ago before going to bed. A way of closing the the day and letting go in order to find rest and renewal in sleep. I began at a time when I was having the relatively new emotions of anger, hurt and resentment towards someone who had been an important part of my life for many years. The burden was so heavy. I had to find a way to work towards acceptance and forgiveness. I found that this worked very well, although it took time. I discovered it also changed me in other ways. As I gave directed thoughts of love and kindness to others in my daily life, I softened and found a quietness and calmness in life. It also reflected back to me in the way others interacted with me.
When I wish all others safety, good health, love, happiness and peace, it helps me find the bond with all others….every person, everywhere, hopes for and deserves these things by virtue of our shared humanness. They are no different from me.
There are many variations of the words and if this is of interest to you I encourage you to do some research and find the version that speaks to you.